Sunday, August 23, 2009

Project Playhouse, Taylor Style

No, this isn't made of gingerbread! I didn't bake any part of it. But I thought it deserved a post on the blog, nevertheless. This beautiful playhouse is the handiwork of my parents, Lynn & Lynne Taylor, the original MacGyvers! Last year, we took them to Fashion Island to see "Project Playhouse", a fundraiser that auctions off these incredible playhouses for charity, and they were inspired.
So, in a blatant attempt to make Grandma & Grandpa's house way more fun than our own, they designed and built this 8' x 8' playhouse in their backyard especially for the grand kids.

The "cabin" was built like a real house; there's a cement foundation, wood frame, roof tiles and wood siding on the outside, drywall and indoor/outdoor carpet on the inside. The workmanship is impeccable - the interior is painted and finished off with baseboards and wood trim around the windows. My Mom found the old windows at an antique show, and my Dad built the dutch door himself. My Mom hand-painted the exterior to make the wood siding look like a log cabin. And she also did the custom "Little Bear Lodge" painting above the door. Not to mention that she did all the interior decorating: custom curtains and curtain rods, little bear paintings, and an incredible "stone" fireplace that is actually carved out of styrofoam and painted to look like rocks!

Note the raccoon friend outside the window! No detail was spared. (Now you all know where I get it from!)

My daughter loves her little house; she is constantly "cooking" in her little kitchen and making us come up to the dutch door to order food from her "take out" window. The playhouse will be a special part of her childhood, and mom can't wait to host a special tea party for her and her little girlfriends at Grandma's house (ha ha!)

Now that "project playhouse" is complete, the dynamic duo has decided that it would be fun to do for other people too! So if any of you out there are seriously interested in having a custom playhouse built, please contact the Taylors at 949.458.0350.

Pretty Cupcakes

So I wanted to show that you don't need a real "theme" to your party to have some pretty cupcakes! I made these cupcakes for a Doctor's office in Irvine that was hosting a "Beauty Day" with mini massages & mini facials (PS - These ladies are fabulous! I personally see them both! Contact Maria Barajas, Massage Therapist at 949.422.2093 and Robin Bliss Clark, Esthetician at 949.525.3710 for more info.) I topped the cupcakes with a simple swirl of frosting. The zebra striped wrappers were "black & white" cupcakes (chocolate & vanilla) with chocolate vanilla swirled icing. The cheetah print wrappers were cappuccino cupcakes with cappuccino icing. I also added sanding sugar for a little sparkle and little pink flowers to keep them girly. You go girls!

Monday, August 10, 2009

90th Birthday Cake

This cake was for a 90th Birthday party (wow!) for my client's father. I kept the design simple and elegant, with offset square tiers wrapped in a grey marbled fondant. I used actual ribbon in black & silver to accent the tiers and for the bow on top. I made the "90" topper out of embellished wire with beads & sequins for a little sparkle. The banner in front of the second tier I made out of fondant. The whole cake was supposed to feed 80 people, but I bet they got about 100 servings (my first time using these square turned out to be a BIG cake). And speaking of cake, they went with a different flavor for each tier: vanilla cake with raspberry and bavarian cream filling, chocolate chocolate chip cake with chocolate cream filling; and lemon cake with vanilla custard filling.

I decided to take some "before" photos this time as I built this cake so that you can see what goes into the construction. Each tier of one of my cakes is made with 4 layers of cake and 3 layers of filling. First, I pipe a frosting "dam" around the top of each cake layer to keep the filling from oozing out the sides.

Then I add a thick layer of filling, and top with another layer of cake until, voila! Ready for frosting...

Next comes the layer of icing called a "crumb coat", which keeps the crumbs in place and also acts as a good adhesive for the fondant. (I heard the Cake Boss say he had to "dirty ice" a cake the other day. I think I like that term sounds so much cooler and "edgy"). Then the cakes are covered in a layer of fondant, and stacked using some wooden dowels for support.

Here's the same cake before all the accessories. Also, you can enjoy this rare peek into my disastrous work space, complete with the highchair (and breakfast) in the background and the electronic toys on the fridge. And no, it's not Halloween, but I had to break out the big guns for this size cake: my stylish vinyl table cloth.

Then the final touches... (here I'm painting on a thinned frosting "paste" to glue the ribbon to the fondant) The final step, however, is finding someone to carry that cake for you (man, do they get heavy!) It's kind of strange to think that in just a few hours from this point, someone took a knife and destroyed my piece of art! Hope you guys enjoyed it! xoxo

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beach Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for Avery's 4th Birthday. Avery saw my mermaid cupcakes online with her Aunt Steph and decided that she would love a mermaid of her own. So I was happy to create some fun, beachy cupcakes for her. The fish cupcakes and starfish cupcakes were designs I developed last month. But I tried a couple new ones - Seahorses molded out of chocolate perched on the ocean floor (with colorful rocks), and the sand pail on the beach. The sand pails I also molded from chocolate, and I piped handles and shovels with icing. The "sand" is a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and raw sugar. I made four flavors of cake: Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Coconut, and Vanilla Raspberry. Happy Birthday Avery! Hope you had a fun party.

Larry's 40th Birthday Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for a dear friend of mine on his big 4-0. His wife ordered these sweet treats for a wild surprise party (I know it was wild - I witnessed it myself!) The cupcakes were simply decorated with a swirl of icing, topped with "40"s that I molded out of chocolate. Each treat also got a special photo of the birthday boy as a kid and as an adult. I printed the photos from my computer and attached them to fancy toothpicks for a personal touch. The cupcake towers and photos made a fun centerpiece to the party...and topped off the surprise! I made four flavors of cake: chocolate chocolate chip, banana chocolate chip, coconut and cappuccino (my new favorite). They were all gone by the end of the evening, so I think it was a success!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mini Wedding Cakes

I made these mini two- tiered cakes for Miss Kelly's bridal shower. The bright colored cakes were built with a regular cupcake sized base cake topped with a mini muffin sized cake. The cakes were covered in poured candy icing which gave them a smooth and shiny coating. Then the white frosting decorations were hand-piped by myself and my handsome sous chef (aka Husband! Great job Honey!) The tiny flowers got tiny-er candy centers. And each mini cake sat on its own mini paper doily. Like the sugar cookie favors that matched, the mini cakes were dressed in bright summer colors and the white decorations tied them together for a cohesive look. The cakes were also in bright summer flavors: strawberry (pink), lemon (yellow), and my new flavor "mimosa" (orange). The shower hostess said that everyone was raving about these little guys and that they "tasted even better than they looked"! (Thanks Steph!) These would be really cute at a wedding as well... Mini two-tiered "petit four" style cupcakes start at $5 each.

Wedding Ring "Bling" Cookies

Ok, so I'm no photographer; the photo doesn't do these justice. But I am becoming a frosting artist. These cookies turned out really fun with big graphic diamonds and platinum rings. What you can't see in the photo is the real "bling" - the diamonds were sprinkled with edible glitter and the silver bands were painted with silver luster dust. These sugar cookie favors were individually wrapped in cellophane bags with bows and given as favors at a bridal shower. They would make fun wedding favors as well. I do!

Wedding Cake Cookies

I created these homemade sugar cookies as favors for a bridal shower for Miss Kelly. The bright summer colors of the shower really made the cookies "pop". I kept the designs pretty simple with dots, stripes and flowers, and the white royal icing tied all the bright colored cookies together for a cohesive look. The "K" and "B", the bride & groom's initials, topped some of the cookie cakes. Each of the cookies were wrapped in individual cellophane bags and tied with coordinating ribbons. They looked darling, if I do say so myself, and they were apparently well received at the shower. Cookie favors start at $3.00 each.

21st Birthday Cake

I created this cake for my hair stylist extraordinaire for her son's 21st Birthday. We wanted to play up the 21 / "blackjack" connection. The cookie playing cards were her suggestion...and they turned out really fun. (And bonus - they got a cookie chaser with their slice of cake!) I cut out the sugar cookies using an actual playing card as a template. I glazed the cookies with a smooth icing, then hand-drew (yes, I drew all the jacks freehand) the artwork with food markers. I was really happy (and relieved!) when the edible markers worked...I never could have gotten that level of detail with frosting or chocolate. It turned out to be a fun experiment! The cake was Michelle's favorite that we affectionately refer to as "death by chocolate": chocolate chocolate chip cake with chocolate filling and chocolate buttercream icing. Got milk? Custom cakes start at $50.

Cookie Cakes

Ok, so this is sort of a prototype. I had some extra cookie dough and I've always wanted to try these. And aren't they adorable? I think they'd be a cool treat for a bridal shower, or even a really special favor for a wedding. They're cute on the cupcake liners, or even just the scalloped paper doily. Just an idea...